In the Biblical sense, mystery is not simply complicated and hard to figure out, like an intricate detective thriller. It refers to that which is hidden, not yet revealed, a secret. The leverage that mystery might wield over us is not confined to hard circumstances either. Adam was duped in a perfect garden of light. The serpent dangled mystery in front of him. The secret and hidden things that God was protecting him from, once tempted, he believed he was entitled to. The serpent-paved path to compromise has seduced many from the faith – forfeiting hinds feet, for life on a lower level.
When Jesus plainly foretold his death and resurrection, Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. Jesus in turn rebuked Peter. Get behind me Satan. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God but on the things of man. And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.’ (Mark 8:34-35)
Six days later, Peter, James and John witnessed the radiance of a transfigured Christ as he visited on a mountain top with Elijah and Moses. As they were coming down the mountain Jesus again foretold his sufferings, that the Son of Man would be treated with contempt.
Unlike the things of man, the things of God are “death friendly.” They are unto the saving of our lives. “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” is a beautiful, paradoxical, oftentimes turbulent, prayer. (Phil.3:10)
Knowing the power of resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, not in random separation but in a divine co-mingling, is an attribute of the Son of man that we are privileged to embrace, and requires adaptation to mystery.
The speed of our culture has slowed down our zeal to search out the secret things of God. Everything else is “on-demand” so why can’t it be that way in God? We’re expecting a fine quality wine from yesterday’s grapes!
The quest for a God-like heart, the longing to be like the One to whom darkness is as light, will produce a Gethsemane-like trust deep within. It is the cushion of mystery that comforts on the solitary Cross-walk. Our hearts are tenderized, mining for light in a shaft of darkness – a cumbersome, slowly rewarding process. But in the end, “light dawns in the darkness for the upright” and all things will be revealed, in His time. (Psalm 112:4; Luke 8:17) Mystery is the forerunner to revelation.
The desperate cry of our hearts for life to be explained and understood is usually not answered in the preferred manner. We are not meant of course, to discount the faculty of reason that God has blessed us with, but we don’t live by reason; we live by faith.
A favorite novelist of mine expressed it thusly: If it (an explanation) were given he would soon need a larger one, and a still larger one after that, until in the end no explanation would fill the yawning abyss of his doubt… Not-knowing was the way to ultimate union with the Love whose embrace was the filling of every doubt, the binding up of all wounds. ¹